This week marks my first holiday of love without the two people who loved me the longest; and I’ll be missing my mom and dad on Valentine’s Day.
This is the third in a four-part series about grieving the loss of a loved one. In the final post, I’ll be sharing very specific ways others helped me throughout these difficult months as I floundered through the heartbreak of loosing both of my parents in such a short time. My hope is to provide a practical list of ways we can help others who are grieving.
Since I can’t send mom and dad a valentine this year, I decided to send out some valentines to others whom I normally wouldn’t have. So after the joy of running some of our first maple sap lines last weekend (more on that in an upcoming post!), I got out some of my favorite letter-writing supplies and used a fun scratch-off technique to hide a message of love. I noticed I was appropriately wearing my “Love” sweatshirt that my daughter screen printed for me with my recent favorite verse–I John 4:18. It reminds me that if I focus on God’s perfect love I have nothing to fear, even on the hard days.
To see the scratch-off tutorial I used, hop on over to Ellan Rose. To see some letter-writing art supplies my daughters and I love to use, scroll the links at the end of this post.
As I work through the 4 stages of grief, I’ve been cherishing memories.
Slowly, as someone who is addicted to the cathartic process of writing, I’ve allowed emotions to travel from my heart to my head, then from my fingertips to the keyboard, where they ultimately fill the screen, molding themselves into black symbols on a white screen.
Why I Write
So it was a natural thing to do on our trip down the East coast. With the love of my life, and our four daughters, and our two stinky beloved dogs, and a few suitcases, piled in a mini van, we were traveling on the truck side of the Jersey turnpike. We were driving to my Dad’s funeral service. We were driving to say one final “goodbye” to my daddy… So I wrote his story. I share it below, with a little wink and a nod to mom and dad on Valentine’s Day.
I encourage you to take a few minutes and write down what you know about your own parents and their love story.
It is, after all the prelude to your own story. So you should know it.
If you’re like me, you’ll realize there are many holes in your knowledge and gaps in your outline. What better thing to do than ask mom and dad on Valentine’s Day to help you fill in the blanks, while you’re still able to do so.
Questions to Ask Your Parents About Their Love Story
If you need some ideas, here are a few questions to ask mom and dad. Things I wish I knew about my parents. Things I can no longer ask.
- What was your first impression of each other?
- What did you do on dates?
- Tell me all about the marriage proposal.
- Where did you get the wedding rings and how did you save the money to buy them?
- Do you remember a way you celebrated a favorite anniversary in the early years?
While there are so many things I wish I could still ask mom and dad, I am very thankful for the story I do know.
His Best Story
They met near diminutive PawPaw, in beautiful West Virginia. She had been working at the Avon factory and had recently faced more heartbreak than a 21-year-old ever should. He had been working for Coca-cola and needing a purpose to life, besides playing the guitar and hanging at bar rooms with different girls on his arms and trouble on his lips.
So he took her to meet his mom.
When Rosa said, “I think that’s the girl to straighten Tom out,” he wasn’t too sure he wanted to be straightened out. He wasn’t too sure he didn’t wanna keep right on being crooked. But he seemed more calm, and he started hanging around home more and Benny Clark’s bar room less.
To Tom’s younger nieces, Tommy and Irene looked like flesh-and-blood Romeo and Juliet. He was wild and crazy; she had both feet on the floor. So he said,“We outta get married.”
He called her his “Queenie,” they started a family, and they moved to where they had Opportunities with a capital “O.”
A new life in Newark. A crisp-cornered, daily-tended vegetable garden and a deep, lush lawn of Delaware Blue Grass growing around Queenie’s castle.
Every Thanksgiving week would mean a 4-hr drive back to the dirt roads of their youth. The week was filled with deer hunting and old-fashioned, home-cooked meals on her family farm in West Virginia, with a hand pump to draw the water, a wood stove to supply heat and a cooking surface, and four walls to hold lots of family, stories, songs, cards, and more stories.
Years passed, 55 Thanksgivings in all, with lots to be thankful for amidst pain and arguments, difficulties and brokenness.
But he kept strumming his guitar for his granddaughter, albeit slower than he used to, telling stories to anyone who would sit and listen, and doing almost anything his children asked of him, if he could and it was legal.
He and his Queenie were devoted to their jobs, even on the hard days.
They were devoted to their marriage, even in the hard years.
They were devoted to their Lord, always. In everything. Even in their hardest, saddest hours.
One cold November night, they held hands, in a circle with their son and daughter who were their world, and Tommy said goodbye to his Queenie without words.
But it was only a brief separation until he was again singing to her and telling her stories, now with an eternity of perfect opportunities.
I was surprised when I looked back to see how much I have written about my parents over the years… There was a a thank you to Mom; an ode to the joys of being raised on a farm, on Dad’s birthday; a few about gardening with dad–even before I ever thought he’d get to visit our homestead; a few about Mom’s diagnosis, good prognosis, and two (here and here) about verses that comforted me; and then there was last Christmas, and this Christmas’s gingerbread house that Dad loved building with us. And, my most read post so far this year… What My Parents Taught Me About Broken Heart Syndrome.
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links.
We love these products for journaling, which is a great way to start writing down your family’s story.
| | | |
I’d love to connect! To find me in some other neck of the woods, just click any (or every!) box below:
Please take a second to follow along here on SoulyRested to catch up on a few of my memorable mishaps, enjoy musings about my centuries-old farmhouse, or glean a little parenting/homeschooling insight from this momma who’s been failing at the effort for almost 2 decades. I hope my focus always helps you Keep it Simple while being Souly Rested on Christ.
And remember to subscribe to my Resource Library by simply sharing your email below. (I’ll never share it with anyone else. Pinky promise.) Or just click here to access a printable of the 14 verses that have been a great comfort to me.
I’d love to share with you a printable page of the many verses that have been a great comfort to me throughout this difficult journey of saying goodbye to my parents. It’s just one of many resources in my Resource Library. Share your email with me in the box below, and I’ll send you the link and your password. Or if you’d rather not subscribe, please just see the link above, where you can open and print the list of verses. I truly hope it’s a comfort to you too.
On the other hand, if you subscribe, be sure to print out my two free eBooks. A Sweet Taste and Maple Goodness, which happens to have a recipe for The Best Scones Ever–mmmmm, the perfect dessert for valentines day, no?